Fashion retailer H&M is rolling out a new e-commerce site and mobile application, aimed specifically at its U.S. customers and equipped with visual search and other new capabilities, according to an H&M press release.
Other new features include: payment via PayPal; Scan & Find to help shoppers find items that might be out of stock in stores; Rate and Review for shopper product reviews; free return to stores; live chat; new shipping options and the #HMxME social gallery for style inspiration.
The hm.com website has been updated automatically with all the new capabilities, but H&M mobile app users who want to see the new features will need to delete the old app and download the new version for both iPhone and Android, the retailer said.
A revamp of H&M's e-commerce and mobile commerce storefronts didn't appear to excite the retailer's investors. The Swedish company's stock price fell Monday, and has now declined by almost 20% since the start of the year.
H&M leadership did warn earlier this year that 2018 could be something of a transitional "building year" as the retailer focuses on ramping up e-commerce efforts amid downward sales and the decision to close some brick-and-mortar stores even as it continues to open new ones.
As new retailer websites and mobile apps go, H&M is at least putting up a good show, adopting fresh capabilities that create bridges between its in-store and digital shopping experiences. Scan & Find, for example, connects shoppers in-store who can't find the correct size or are in need of other information to the retailer's new website by simply scanning the price tag. H&M is also planning another new feature for fall release — "find in store" — that will help shoppers locate specific items in the nearest H&M physical store location.
H&M isn't the first retailer (or even the first in the fashion segment) to support visual search, another new capability, but it's a feature that should quickly make it much easier for H&M shoppers to find what they are looking for. Meanwhile, Rate and Review and the promotion of #HMxME should at least give the retailer more social currency and user-generated content, and flexibility features like free returns should only boost customer satisfaction and confidence in making purchases.
A potential speed bump, however, is the fact that shoppers who already have the old H&M mobile app need to get rid of it and download the new one. Often, features like this are added to mobile apps through periodic app updates, which many smartphones users set to download automatically. Perhaps H&M's revamp is so comprehensive that introducing a new app made more sense, but requiring users to take action also gives them a chance to ask themselves if they are using the app often enough to keep it.